Andrew Cancio. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions
As a construction tech for the Southern California Gas Company, Andrea Cancio is no stranger to heading into dangerous situations, especially during last year’s deadly mudslides and wildfires which made headlines all over the world. Cancio was on the frontlines watching along with his colleagues – whom he refers to as “family” – as firefighters were carrying bodies out of pits where at one time stood their homes.
This may be one reason why Cancio remains calm on the eve of what will be the biggest fight of his career against Alberto Machado which will be broadcast live on DAZN Saturday night at Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California.
“I just have to keep telling myself I’ve been here before,” Cancio (19-4-2, 14 knockouts) told The Ring. “There’s no reason to get worked up now because all the hard work is done is already. Maybe in the dressing room before the fight I’ll start thinking about what’s at stake.”
Machado (21-0, 17 KOs) is rated No. 4 by The Ring at junior lightweight. He is a southpaw with a four-inch height advantage and an 81 percent knockout ratio. However, Cancio is neither intimidated nor bothered about being labelled the underdog, in fact that tag suits him just fine.
“Everything I’ve been through has helped me get to where I am today,” Cancio reflects. “I used to fight for $400 in run down gyms. I tell my kids about it and that’s why I want them to be ringside for this fight.”
The 30-year-old Cancio has split custody of his nine-year-old daughter Audrina and seven-year-old son Ethan. He looks at the Machado fight as an opportunity to build a better life for them which is why he lays his own life on the line against a devastating puncher.
“I think we match up well against him actually,” Cancio said. “He’s a come forward-type of guy and tall and lanky. It will work in our favor because he likes to exchange. My resume is filled with tougher fights than his.”
A year ago very few would have pegged Cancio to reach this level after he took a long layoff following defeat to Jo Jo Diaz in 2016. Cancio admits to having contemplated retirement.
“I was fed up with the sport and everything about it honestly,” Cancio said. “I wasn’t training, running, doing anything. Thank goodness I came back. Look at where I am now. I really had to come back from the bottom to get to the top.”
Cancio said that while he wasn’t training during the layoff, the physical demands of working for the gas company kept him in shape. He then found himself missing the sport. Cancio decided to give it one more try and last April he scored a 10th round stoppage over heralded prospect Aidar Sharibayev to propel himself back in the spotlight.
“They were talking about the Russian guy the way they used to talk about me when I was younger,” Cancio said. “He was knocking everyone out, well so was I. I just believed in myself and believed in my technique and combinations, and then I took him out.
Cancio followed up the knockout victory of Sharibeyev with a dominant performance a few months later against Dardan Zenunaj.
“I might have lost some confidence but I am all the way back now,” Cancio said. “My trainers changed a few things and added some weapons. We worked on my head movement, my defense, my jab is great and my combinations feel right. I am getting faster and better and that’s why we believe we will win.”
Saturday will mark Cancio’s 10th appearance at Fantasy Springs and he will have home advantage. In addition to his children, 12 of his co-workers will make the trip.
“I think it’s an advantage for me to have my friends and family close by,” Cancio said. “When I’m tired, I will hear them screaming for me and draw my energy from the crowd.”
Should Cancio manage to pull off the victory the guys at the gas company will have to wait until Tuesday to salute their colleague because he already asked for Monday off.
“If you see any of my fights I get bruised up and sore no matter the outcome,” Cancio said through a smile. “I’m definitely going to be out on Monday but Tuesday I’ll be at work ready to go.”
If Cancio develops any butterflies before the bout he can just think back to the Thomas wildfires last December. Cancio remembers staring out in the fog where beautiful homes once stood tall. The same homes which were on his route when he started out reading gas meters.
Editor’s Note: Cancio will challenge Machado for a version of the WBA 130-pound title which is unrecognized by The Ring.
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